Many novelists have written about the immigrant experience in America. Few, however, have captured the Chinese-American experience as well as Maxine Hong Kingston
. In CHINA MEN, published in 1980, the author sets out to relate the unique nature of this experience exclusively through the eyes of men. Using a combination of myth, history, legend, and memory, she creates a cast of characters whose lives span centuries and continents. (These characters are drawn from Kingston's family, as well as from the men she encountered growing up in her Chinese-American community in California.) The stories are of men who came to America to make new lives for themselves and their future generations.
One of the problems Kingston tackles in this novel is the lack of knowledge about Chinese history and culture among the general American public. To counter this, she inserts a section of text that covers the history necessary for a sound understanding of the emotions and characters she is trying to convey. This unconventional technique is combined with a simple sentence structure and Kingston's trademark blending of past and present, real and imagined, to create a novel that won the National Book Award. Previous